As the Tony-winning star of Broadway’s Hairspray, Marissa Jaret Winokur knows a thing or two about big performances. And after spending time with The Apprentice star-turned-White House employee Omarosa Manigault while shooting Celebrity Big Brother, she’s convinced: The controversy magnet is one heck of an actress.

“I think the stuff we see her doing on TV is all a character,” Marissa, 45, exclusively tells Life & Style. “The whole time [on CBB], she was producing good TV. She would even say, ‘Oh, this would be good TV.'”

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Marissa and Omarosa, 44, lived in the Big Brother house together for 26 days, and the actress (who wound up winning) developed a strong understanding of the former Trump administration staffer. “If you only took what you knew of her from other reality shows, she’s horrifying, right?” Marissa says. “But then when you’re actually in the house with her, it’s not what the edit always makes her out to be.”

“Omarosa was a savvy player on CBB,” Marissa tells Life & Style, adding, “She was my toughest opponent.”